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Predictions on Stage 15?(4 posts)

Predictions on Stage 15?jumphress
Jul 20, 2003 8:20 AM
What a ballsy performance by Vino, attacking near the end of a stage with a downhill finish. But to me the real story was that Lance's team appeared to have been shelled - unless they were saving themselves for tomorrow. I don't think so, otherwise Landis would not have dropped back to pace Heras.

I think that Mayo and Zubledia will be working to get away so as to get either a stage win or a shot at the final podium. The Aspin may be too early, but who knows? Depends on how fast the pace is between kilometers 26 and 81. If either of them is looking like they would get a 3 minute lead by time they reach the Tourmalet summit, the GC leaders will have to respond.

Will Vino attack again? Will Jan and Vino work together? I did not see this morning's stage, so I don't know if they were doing it today. But Telekom has to be thinking that 2nd (or even 1st!) on the podium in Paris is better than third. To acheive that, Lance has to be put into some trouble, and that would be easier with assistance from Jan. At this moment I would give Ullrich the edge in the final ITT. That mean's it is slightly more critical for Lance to cover Vino's moves than it is for Jan.

And what about team tactics? Postal hardly looks like the dominant team right now. But they will still have to work the hardest to make sure any moves are covered, or to keep Lance in a position where HE can cover them. That likely means they will have to work hard from a point fairly early in the stage.

I think Telekom and Bianchi will be working (perhaps together) to set a fast pace to put pressure on Postal. If they can either drop Lance's teammates or wear their legs out, Lance will be put into a situation he has never faced in the Tour; two climbs from a stage finish in the second set of mountain stages with and insignificant lead on GC.

This works slightly to Ullrich's favor. Lance's method of attack has been to have his teammates set a blistering tempo all the way to the first reaches of the final climb, then use his great acceleration to drop his competition. Ullrich just keeps the pressure on, surging until he rides them off his wheel. Lance may also be at a disadvantage lacking a teammate to help him close those little gaps.

As for those folks who continue to say that Lance is stronger in the mountains - I haven't seen it. Lance is not nearly as dominant as he was in 2000 or 2001. I think Ullrich is better than he was in those years, but not as strong as in 1997, when he rode up Alpe d'Huez in 38:22. If the Ullrich of 2003 was racing the Lance of 2000, I would give the nod to Lance. This year's Jan v. 2001 Lance? About even.

Having said all that, I guess that a spanish rider will win tomorrow's stage and that the order of the GC podium will be shuffled.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to follow tomorrow's stage as I will be up in Yellowstone - no internet connection! Maybe I can pick up a NY Times on Tueday to read Abt's coverage.
beg to differ - Postal isn't in trouble, but Lance sure is...BergMann
Jul 20, 2003 10:32 AM
Although I agree with your take on the real podium contenders (Vino needs to get 2+ minutes on Jan and Lance tomorrow to have a realistic chance of winning the tour), I don't see any big GC shakeup occurring tomorrow. There's no way in hell either of the Euskatel guys will get 4+ minutes on the finish tomorrow, so they'll stay right were they are on GC. At over 3.5 minutes behind them, Basso, Hamilton and co. will continue to battle amongst themselves for the rest of the top 10.

As for Postal, who else would you nominate for the "dominant" team? They're doing _all_ the work this tour, and there's no one else able or willing to step up and do the pacemaking over the first 100km or so of the race (in spite Saeco's show of bravado on stage 13, and Simoni's win today, Saeco doesn't count as a tactical factor). Ullrich has no climbers, and neither does Vino. Euskatel won't chase because they're the ones on the attack!

Yes, it unfortunately looks like Heras is spent, and Postal has the misfortune of seeing Heras having an "off" year when Lance needs him most. That said, Rubiera finished with the second group of GC contenders today (Tyler, Mancebo, etc.) 3 min behind Lance, and Beltran was less than a minute behind Rubiera.

Postal will definitely be there for the first two climbs for Lance, but the _big_ question is, even if they manage to hang in there and set up the first half of the finishing climb is can Lance finish it off?

I'm afraid that even if Heras were 100%, Lance just doesn't have that extra something this year to attack and put time into his rivals in the final 3 km of the climb.

Calculations by Dr. "Orange Juice" Ferrari and others show that Lance is only performing at 95% of previous Tour levels. And this is across the board.

All speculations that Lance has been "holding back" up to now are head-in-the-sand wishful thinking. Lance would _never_ give Vino 40 seconds just for the fun of it.

My humble prediction: unless Lance experiences a major rebirth, manages to drop Vino and Ullrich, and gains at least 1:30 more on the German tomorrow, he will have lost the tour.

Tomorrow will tell!
beg to differ - Postal isn't in trouble, but Lance sure is...Jon Billheimer
Jul 20, 2003 11:31 AM
Agree. But never, never underestimate a desperate and determined Armstrong. My guess is that the best case scenario has Lance gutting it out for an extra 30 secs tomorrow--maybe--which will probably not be enough to hold off Ullrich in the TT.
good call Jon!BergMann
Jul 22, 2003 8:38 AM
30 seconds was a damn fine guesstimate!
I guess I can add myself to the "O ye of little faith" club!
I must say, I've never been happier to be wrong.
BergMann